Professions Mk. II (Whiplash Remix)

What I’m learning from my various¬†attempts at researching what the playerbase wants out of professions are that there are a wide spread of opinions on the matter, and satisfying all of them would constitute some mutually exclusive ideas.

So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to continue to collect problems and come up with solutions. One of my earlier problem/solution mixes is back at the beginning of this blog, and even then I recognized that there wasn’t only one solution to the problem, but many.

What I want to present here is a blueprint for answering the following problem:

“Professions are hard to level while leveling XP.”

But to do that, let’s unpack what the leveling game looks like currently.

  • Characters gain experience by killing monsters (with rare monsters granting very high amounts of XP), completing quests, tapping herb/mining nodes, completing objectives in Battlegrounds, completing a dungeon via LFD, collecting Archaeology fragments, and opening chests.
  • From that list, we can determine that the leveling game has three distinct avenues that share some XP-generating methods:
    • Questing involves completing quests, killing monsters (both as part of completing the quest and as obstacles on the way to quest objectives), tapping profession nodes, and opening chests. Rare monsters are an incidental bonus here.
    • Dungeons involve mainly killing monsters and getting the completion XP bonus for using LFD, but includes completing one-time dungeon quests, as well as opening chests and tapping herb/mining nodes if they’re in the instance.
    • Battlegrounds involve completing objectives in the BGs themselves as the primary method. Quests are virtually nonexistent, and monsters/chests/profession nodes aren’t present, but the speed of completing the objectives and winning/losing and then reshuffling to a new team keeps it arguably interesting.

So with that in mind, would it not be viable to have professions act as a leveling process all on their own?

  • Tapping resource nodes is already an XP-generating avenue for Herbalism and Mining. Skinning is also arguably XP-generating, except you get the XP for killing the monster first and then just get the leather afterward. And getting access to the resources is going to involve some incidental monster-killing along the way, at least until flying mounts come into the affair.
  • Crafting an item could be an XP-generating action. I’m certain there’s a formula of “xp per effort” that governs how the designers currently set XP rewards, so if you extended that to crafting, then players would have an incentive to create a piece of gear that they have the materials for, but wouldn’t otherwise craft because it doesn’t replace existing equipment or is unusable for their class/spec.
  • It’s not hard to come up with profession-oriented quests that involve the profession trainer sending the PC somewhere to either collect a rare resource from a dangerous place (“Bring me Dark Iron Ore from Blackrock Mountain!”), perform an action at a particular place (“Go make this thing on the Black Anvil in Blackrock Depths!”), or even just have a delivery quest that takes the PC to a new trainer who in turn has their own quests (“Get ye to the Thorium Brotherhood at Thorium Point!”). Again, you’d have incidental monster-killing or potentially mini-bosses that would provide residual XP in addition to the quest rewards.
  • Having an active scenario-type event, similar to the Noodle Stand Cooking daily that was just introduced in 5.4, would be another way to create an engaging experience for players that isn’t just “gather materials, click make, sell/disenchant”.

Of course, this design has potential drawbacks and a lot of unanswered questions. Add this into the existing matrix of leveling mechanics in the game, and you’ll see low-level mats skyrocket in price as moneyed players buy them out to level up alts. Does crafting only give experience if it still grants a skill-up? Do recipes with more esoteric components grant more XP? Is access to higher levels of the profession gated by completion of the quests, as used to be the case with First Aid?

Is it worth it to create a bunch of additional quests for professions that help in the leveling game when players seem to be angling for more endgame content rather than an excuse to go back to classic/non-current zones?

All that said, I think that if professions were an alternate leveling method, it would endear players to the professions a bit more, such that their usage at endgame would be more valued instead of just a hurdle in the gearing game.

What do you think? Hit me back in the comments and keep in mind, this is one of many possible solutions, not all of which would work well together. ^_^

Quick Update

Right, so, things have been dead here for a bit and I wanted to explain why.

  1. A few weeks back I was in Chicago for a few days, visiting friends and going to a wedding. Was a great trip, but the hotel didn’t have good wifi and it was the Tonberry King’s first big travel, so there wasn’t a lot of free time for me to blog.
  2. We came home to find our door kicked open and a bunch of our stuff gone, so a lot of mental space was then taken up doing inventory and reporting for law enforcement and insurance.
  3. There have been a couple of computer issues that cropped up at inconvenient times, because if I want to write and that writing requires research, but the research is impossible to do because YouTube won’t load videos in a timely manner, and the situation can’t be troubleshot because it’s clearly an ISP problem, and after I’ve tried to troubleshoot it myself I’ve lost the inspiration for the post and the baby wakes up… well, that means no writing, and a lot of frustration.

Things have thankfully calmed down, and we’ve replaced most of the big stuff that we lost. Then Patch 5.4 hit, and my free time has been taken up playing that rather than writing about the game… and while there’s a lot to be said about the patch, I think I’ve missed the boat a bit in terms of being able to write something original about it. Briefly, though:

  • The Timeless Isle is pretty cool, but I expect that the experience of it is dulled by the boatload of players who are also on the island, camping rares, turning General into Shrine Trade, or rolling around in PVP hunter-killer groups. It’s ambitious but I need some narrative distance before I can write on whether it’s a success for Blizzard or not.
  • I’m pretty happy about how the Horde/Alliance ending cinematics for SoO worked out, but I’m pretty upset about Jaina’s characterization and how much it feels like a gross heel turn for her. The problem is that I feel any argument I make to that effect will fall on deaf ears with Blizzard because Kosak is convinced that Jaina’s portrayal in the game has built appropriately to this super-aggressive version. Ultimately, I think that many of the qualities of Jaina’s character that I really cared for in the past have been stripped away so that she could be the violent human warmonger, since that role isn’t working for Varian Wrynn any longer. (There really is a bigger post on that, but again, I need some distance from the problem.)
  • Haven’t been able to get into SoO in any mode yet, but I am looking forward to it. Might need to give LFR a week for the population to get a clear sense on how to do the fights; being a cloth DPS means that I’ll be in queue for a long time, and I can’t afford having a bunch of wipes eat up the limited hours I’ve got while the boy’s napping.

So I’m going to work on getting regular here again; we’ve got a long road ahead of us, seven weeks to BlizzCon, and I think there will be a lot of talk about between now and then. ^_^